UAE recalls ambassador from Sweden as Saudi spat spreads

AFP , Wednesday 18 Mar 2015

The United Arab Emirates recalled its ambassador from Sweden Wednesday, widening a diplomatic row triggered by the Nordic country's criticism of Saudi Arabia.

The protest came a week after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm, citing Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem's criticism of its human rights and democracy record in the Swedish parliament.

The UAE's foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that the ambassador was recalled "in the wake of offending remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden" and that it had lodged a complaint with Sweden's envoy to Abu Dhabi.

The ministry said it condemned the "strong statements" made by the Swedish foreign minister against UAE's neighbour Saudi Arabia.

It added that those statements "violate the principle of sovereignty upon which the normal relations between countries are based" and "do not respect the religious and cultural particularities of states and communities."

In early February Wallstroem described the Gulf state as a "dictatorship" that violates women's rights and whips bloggers during parliamentary talks about arms sales to the country.

Sweden last week cut military ties with Saudi Arabia after Wallstroem accused Riyadh of blocking her from making a speech at the Arab League about human rights.

Wallstroem has also came under fire from the League's members for her criticism of Saudi Arabia's human rights record, which they viewed as an affront to Sharia law on which the Arab state's legal system is based.

"We regret this of course, we have good relations with the United Arab Emirates which we want to protect and develop," a foreign ministry spokesman Erik Boman told Swedish daily Aftonbladet.

"But one should bear in mind that Saudi Arabia and UAE have specially close relations, so we should perhaps not draw any exaggerated conclusions from this."

Sweden's foreign minister is set to attend a meeting later in the week with business leaders concerned over the trade impacts of the Nordic country's worsening relations with Gulf countries.

Short link: